Have you managed to have your business practices align with your deepest social, moral and environmental values? If so – how would you advise others do the same? If not – why?
I am very grateful to say that my answer is an emphatic yes. . I’d advise others to study the philosophical and ethical aspects of Chinese medicine to learn how to do this.
See my answer to the question about the most important thing for new practitioners to remember. To me this is crucial – otherwise it is not sustainable!
Yes, yes and yes. At this point in our crazy world and social evolution, with crises looming over our heads, there is no reason to be timid about what one believes in or cares about. I have been consistently surprised by how taking a stand has inspired others, and have been surprised by my own clarion responses to people who denounce my unashamed idealism.
That’s quite a question. Unfortunately, living in the United States and practicing medicine under a notoriously devious medical system it has felt difficult to offer good health care to everyone who needs it regardless of income. One of the great side effects of accepting insurance is seeing a diverse client base and clients that would never be exposed to Chinese Medicine if it wasn’t covered on their insurance. I buy Spring Wind herbs in bulk, which is better choice environmentally than cheaper conventional Chinese sourced herbs, but unless you are growing the herbs yourself, it’s not ideal environmentally.
It’s funny because when I’m just in my own little clinic world maybe sometimes I think it’s not so great, and maybe I should do this or do that and I get sick of health and spirit and all the nuances of the medicine. But then I’ll be at some party and after a few hours someone is mentioning the pain in their back then we’ll end up talking about that. Or someone gets a bug bite and I recommend they go out in the yard to put a spit poltice on the bite (maybe this is a KY thing- a spit poltice is yard plantain you literally chew and put on a itchy spot). So this is who I have become, or am becoming, and that of course aligns with my deepest social, moral and environmental values. The clinic is the ship that sets the direction.
For the most part, yes. We are careful to use environmentally friendly products, including organic herbs whenever possible. We are very conscious about our resource usage. We work to promote those values in others whenever possible, and see some real change on the part of patients because of the example we are setting. I would like to try to do more work to diversify the patient population in various ways. I feel that there are tragically underserved populations in Portland, and it would be more in alignment with my true values to really work to change that.
This is a complicated question. I think our business, in general, as Practitioners of Chinese Medicine is in line with my deepest values. It emphasizes living in harmony with nature and natural rhythms. It takes the whole person into account, and the world beyond the person into account. It uses natural, non-manufactured (mostly) substrates as medicine. It has a low environmental impact. However – it’s always in the back of my mind that Chinese herbs are not local, and I wonder if there are ways to make that more sustainable. It turned me off of Chinese herbs, in a subtle way, for awhile. I know we are trying to grow some things locally, but that does not mesh with the classical Chinese medical belief that the location in which the herb grows matters.
For now, I’ve just come to accept that I use a product that is shipped across the globe. I hope to hear more dialogue between LAcs and NDs, especially from dual degree practitioners, about the possibility of substituting local herbs. I had a similar issue with accepting insurance. I didn’t want to work with big business. I don’t feel that’s the best for our local economic health, nor for my sanity. But it helps my patients if they have health insurance. And helping people is why I do what I do. So, it makes sense to accept insurance if they have coverage. And that helps me, as well.
It’s actually pretty tough to balance your personal beliefs and business practices, sometimes. I’m glad that I don’t have to compromise in places like best practices. I feel like I treat in the way I want to treat, and give the kind of care I want to give, in the way in which I want to give it, and think is beneficial. In the end, I generally do what I believe is best for my patient, and also what allows me to keep practicing.